Category Archives: Plates

In which the “artist” questions himself

I blame my mother.

But then, don’t we all?

Growing up, there was one thing I learned more than any other from my mom: you can do anything.  I saw her sewing, doing cross stitch and needlepoint and latch work.  My father would take us boys on a trip and we’d return to find she’d re-wallpapered/painted the rooms.  She owned a scroll saw and would make toys for us down in the basement.

Frequently she involved us boys in these varied tasks, like when we all colored pictures on transfer paper and she made bed spreads for us with the pictures.  I remember the smell and feel of wallpaper after dunking it in the trough of water.  Somewhere along the way, I picked up a love for crafts and making art as well.

So I blame my mother for my desire to try as much as possible 🙂  To date I can say I have worked in all the following areas: crochet, knitting, water color, book binding, paper making, tie dye, clothes design/making, machine sewing, hand sewing, photography, graphic art, font creation, drawing, altered books, embroidery, jewelry making, embossing, pastels, picture framing, glass plate decoration, stuffed animal design/creation, glass etching, calligraphy… there’s  much, much more that I’m just not thinking of.  And that’s just in the broad field of Arts & Crafts.  I’ve also written plays, short stories, poetry, songs.  I played trombone for 7 years.  I have acted professionally for over 10 years.

But here’s the point I am heading towards: in all these endeavors, I have frequently risen from “not bad” to “pretty good.”  But never beyond.  I’m a good actor.  Maybe a pretty good actor.  But pretty good doesn’t set me above many others when it comes time for casting.  7 years of trombone and I still wasn’t very good at all.  My eye for photography has never been that interesting.  My drawing has always been labored and looks labored.  After years of crocheting, I’d say I could be rated at Advanced Novice.

There is nothing that I feel I do exceedingly well.

While that may not be a terrible thing, it still bothers me.  Even when it comes to my ideas for creating, I feel second-rate.  I see things and think, “Ooo!  I wanna try that!” and then I do THAT.  Exactly that.  Rarely does something I see/experience act as a springboard for something new.  Rarely do I come up with my own concepts.  Sometimes I can’t even put my own spin on concepts.  I might think, “I am going to write a story that takes place after an apocalypse (because I read World War Z) and the lead character is going to live in a casino (because I play too much Fallout: New Vegas).  Never mind, he’ll live on an aircraft carrier (wait, that was Fallout 3).”  I know there’s nothing new in the world (Dime Store Prophets quote) and that all the stories have been told.  The key is putting ones self into something old and making it new.  I just can’t seem to find the Me to put into something, though.  I’ve never been sure how to make it my own.

I guess I spent too much time when I was younger trying to copy exactly what my mom was doing, trying so hard to do it “right.”  I never bothered to color outside the lines and see where it took me.  As an adult, I have a lot of things I can do, but nothing I can do very well.


How I Asked the World’s Awesomest Woman to Marry Me

When you have an amazing girlfriend, you have to have an amazing way to propose.  There are two versions of my story: what I planned, and what actually happened.

Tell Judith to meet me at a specific Metro station.  Surprise her by taking her to a pie restaurant.  Yes! a PIE restaurant.  It’s called Four & Twenty Blackbirds, and it is amazing.  Bring her whatever slice of pie she ordered on a bright red plate.  When she finishes the pie, the middle of the plate says, “Will you marry me?”  I had already scoped out the place, eaten there to look at the size/type of their plates, and I was going to go there before I met her at the Metro station.  I was going to give them the plate and they would serve her pie on it.  It was all so amazing.


They are closed on Mondays.  I found that out about 2 hours before I was supposed to meet her.

I told her to meet me at the library because she loves it and there are many places to eat around there.  On the way to the library I hatched Plan 2.0.  I found this little coffee shop that sold cupcakes that were just the perfect size to cover the center of the plate.  I would have her grab a seat for us, put the cupcake on the plate, and serve it.  Brilliant!

At the library, I ask, “You wanna grab coffee?”  Judith says, “No, I’m hungry.  Let’s get dinner.”  She picks Zaytoons, a Middle Eastern place.

Plan 3!  She orders baba ghanouj as an appetizer and when it comes, I see that the plate is the perfect size!  Right before she grabs some pita, I say, “Why is your hand all dirty?”  She’s a teacher and has ink on her hands.  “Well aren’t you going to wash your hands first?”

While she is in the bathroom, I grab the Proposal Plate from my backpack and place it under the baba ghanouj plate.  My bright red plate is about half an inch wider, so it gives the white appetizer plate a nice border.

…which she never notices.

After giving her the birthday presents I made, I say, “And I made you a plate.” (These plates are one of the crafts I’ve made for her in the past, so she knew what I meant.)  Nervously, I stare at the red-rimmed baba ghanouj plate.  After a few moments, she says, “Oh, is that it?”  She picks up the appetizer plate and reads my message.

She said yes.  🙂

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